This Guest Post is written by Joe Fleming, the President of Vive Health.
What is Tendonitis?
Tendonitis is every golfer’s nightmare, as it can drastically impact your swing. However, knowing how it can occur and follow few basic precautionary measures will exponentially reduce the chances of its occurrence.
A tendon is a highly flexible but inelastic, thick cord of strong fibrous tissues that attach the muscles to the bones. Tendonitis, aka tendinitis, is inflammation of a tendon as a result of overuse, injury, or both.
When irritation or inflammation occurs in the tendon, the pain is felt in the muscle and sometimes in the neighboring bone.
Besides pain, tendonitis can restrict joint movement.
Tendonitis can strike a person at any age, however, it’s more common in people who are over 40. As you get older, tendons start losing their tolerance for stress and elasticity which increases the chances of tendonitis.
Although tendonitis can occur virtually anywhere where there are tendons, the most common locations are the wrist, elbow, shoulder, knee, hip, and base of the thumb.
Risk Factors for Tendonitis
Two different scenarios can lead to tendon inflammation: repetitive, minor impact on the same muscle, and a sudden jerk or pull on the tendon. Anyone who works extended hours at the desk or has improper posture can suffer from tendonitis.
Golfers, especially those that frequent the range or practice often are at an even greater risk. Other sports that can cause the condition are tennis, baseball, weight-lifting, and long-distance running.
However, tendonitis isn’t reserved for those that play sports. People who do certain activities such as gardening, shoveling, painting, scrubbing, and carpentry, etc. are at a high risk for tendonitis as well.
Some other common risk factors include abnormal joints, stress (from arthritis, gout, thyroid disorders), and sedentary people that do too much too soon. Even an infection can sometimes lead to tendonitis.
Common types of tendonitis among golfers
There are different types of tendonitis, depending on where it occurs.
Achilles tendonitis: occurs between the calf muscle and the heel, especially among those playing sports that involve quick movements of feet. This isn’t very common among golfers, but those who do long practice sessions or walk hilly golf courses may suffer from it.
De Quervain’s stenosing tenosynovitis: occurs between the thumb and the wrist. It’s not a true tendonitis, which simply means instead of the whole tendon swelling, only the sheath around it becomes inflamed. If you cast, early release or scoop you’re susceptible to tenosynovitis.
Golfer’s elbow: occurs on the inside of the elbow and pain can float down to the wrist. Pain becomes intense when trying to swing or raise arms against force.
Supraspinatus tendonitis: occurs around the top shoulder joint, and results in severe pain when the arm is moved – especially when raised upward.
Wrist tendonitis: occurs around the wrist, and isn’t normally inflammation but a degenerative condition. It’s common among golf, tennis, and other racket sports – people who use the same motion of the wrist repeatedly.
How Is Tendonitis Diagnosed?
Tendonitis has unique symptoms. The affected area will feel sudden, severe pain right after the intense, stressful activity. The pain may also gradually build up after a prolonged, repetitive motion of the joint. However, in most cases, pain (often described as dull ache) is felt when the affected joint or limb is moved and might not be prevalent when stationary. Mild swelling and tenderness can also accompany the pain.
A physical evaluation and potential diagnostic testing (x-rays or other imaging tests) typically provide a doctor with everything they need to diagnose tendonitis and help you come up with a customized treatment plan. Doctor’s will want to rule out other potential causes of your pain and discomfort, so a discussion of your medical history and everyday actions (work, sports, etc) will help narrow down the most accurate diagnosis.
How Is Tendonitis Treated?
In golfers, tendonitis can usually be treated at home without doctor’s intervention. However, if you experience fever, too much swelling, redness, or inability to move the joint, consult immediate medical help as it could be a different, more serious problem.
This part may be hard for you golfers, but treatment starts with avoiding the activity that caused the problem and resting the affected area until fully recovered. To alleviate the pain, use an ice pack or warm towel, but avoid applying ice directly to the skin. If the injury occurred within the past 48 hours, use an ice pack or wrap ice in a towel and apply for about 15 minutes, four times a day. If the injury is older, use a warm towel instead.
For instant relief, over-the-counter pain relievers and muscle creams including these can also be great. In case of excessive pain, corticosteroid injections around the tendon can quickly alleviate the symptoms, though their frequent use can weaken the tendon. Massage, physical therapy, stretching, and exercising the affected area can help the tendon recover and regain strength.
If the pain keeps increasing or doesn’t seem to be going away for an extended period, shock wave therapy might be required to break up the calcium deposits. Untreated tendonitis can lead to tendon rupture which may require surgery.
You can also use Kinesiology tape to help relieve some stress and pain during a round of golf.
How to Prevent Tendonitis?
As a golfer, you can do a few things to reduce the risk of tendonitis.
Most importantly, warm up and stretch before the game or practice.
As a beginner, take it slow and gradually increase the intensity level. Initially, try to use minimal force and fewer swings, and slowly increase both.
This goes for fitness too, don’t overdo the number of sets, weight, or advanced exercises until you’ve worked up to them.
Stay hydrated, especially during summer sessions.
Stop if unusual pain occurs, change activity for a while and then try again. If you still feel pain, stop practice that day.
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President at ViveHealth.com
Joe Fleming is the President at ViveHealth.com. Interested in all things related to living a healthy lifestyle, he enjoys sharing and expressing his passion through writing. Working to motivate others and defeat aging stereotypes, Joe uses his writing to help all people overcome the obstacles of life. Covering topics that range from physical health, wellness, and aging all the way to social, news, and inspirational pieces...the goal is to help others “rebel against age”.
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